Delay preterm labour

Delaying preterm labour

Once labour starts, it cannot be stopped. But if we can prevent preterm labour from starting, we can keep babies in the womb for longer, and improve their chances of survival and a life free from disability.

Cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)

Preterm labour has many causes. Historically, studies on preterm labour have not distinguished between different causes, creating confusing and often contradictory conclusions.

Borne’s initial focus was on characterising the distinct pathways involved in the different forms of preterm labour.

Our research looks at the processes and mechanisms responsible for initiating labour at the cell and tissue levels. Borne-funded scientists have focused on understanding the role of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), a key intracellular messenger that regulates the onset of labour.

Borne's myometrial cAMP studies

Borne scientists and PhD students are studying the physiological changes behind labour – what turns a relaxed uterus into a powerful contractile muscle when labour starts?

Dr Alice Varley

PhD student Dr Alice Varley is working with leading cardiac scientist Prof Manuela Zaccolo at Oxford University.

They are working to establish whether a better understanding of the cAMP micro domain signalling in myometrial cells can improve our ability to harness the pro-relaxation effects of cAMP to prevent preterm labour.

Jonathan Li

PhD student Jonathan Li is the recipient of the Robert McAlpine Studentship Award. He is studying the changes in myometrial cell function that are triggered by cAMP signalling as the uterus transitions from quiescence to contractility. 

Jonathan is collaborating with Dr Louis Muglia, co-director of the Perinatal Institute at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre. Dr Muglia has identified three mutations in the cAMP pathway associated with an increased risk of preterm labour. In this exciting collaboration, we are contributing our expertise on the cAMP pathway to design experiments to investigate how these mutations may affect uterine function and fetal growth.

Dr Pei Fong Lai

Post-doctoral scientist Dr Pei Fong Lai is studying myometrial tissue samples to examine how cAMP and progesterone signalling regulate the onset of contractions, both individually and together.

Meet Borne PhD student, Dr Alice Varley

Alice has had a passion for science from a young age. After graduating in Medicine from the University of Bristol in 2014, she worked as a junior doctor in the Oxfordshire area.

Following her passion for science and research, she pursued a PhD which investigates the role of cAMP, a signalling molecule within cells, in regulating the mechanisms and pathways that affect labour.

I am very grateful to Borne for my PhD studentship at a time when financial support for young researchers is scarce. This has given me the certainty and confidence to progress my research which, hopefully, will lead to better treatments for women at risk of delivering their babies preterm.

Dr Alice Varley